Why Software Gets In Trouble
Why Software Gets In Trouble
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Why Software Gets In Trouble

Last updated on 2016-02-17

About the Book

Lyndon Vrooman wrote what many readers have said about the effect "Why Software Gets In Trouble" had on him: "I'll be honest, about half way through this book, I thought that I found it rather bland and full of things that I was already doing. This changed however as I was assessing an application that I had been working with for years and we had found some critical faults in. I started thinking more about the book and the contents of it. After re-reading it, I realized that I hadn't been looking closely enough for faults, only going just beneath the skin. As I started to apply more and more of the information within, I began to realize more and more of what I had been learning was adding tremendously to the quality of the product. In short, after thinking more and more about this book, it's quickly gone to one that I recommend to everyone that I work with."

Another reviewer, Joe Strazzerel recounted the contents: "Jerry describes many of the ways errors occur, the correct way of thinking about errors (such as "Errors are not a moral issue" and "Quality is not the same thing as absence of errors"), how companies and processes get into a state where errors are more likely to occur (increased pressure, high levels of stress, poor estimation, lack of control, etc), and the effects of breakdowns."

"This book is fairly short, yet surprisingly thorough over its seven chapters:Chapter 1: Observing and Reasoning About ErrorsChapter 2: The Failure Detection CurveChapter 3: Locating The Faults Behind The FailuresChapter 4: Fault Resolution DynamicsChapter 5: Power, Pressure, and PerformanceChapter 6: Handling Breakdown PressureChapter 7: What We've Managed To Accomplish""For me, this was a very timely book. My team is going through some of the same pressure patterns Jerry writes about. For virtually every point made, I found myself saying 'I remember when that happened,' and sometimes 'That's happening right now!'""If you are a Software Testing professional, you should read this book. You should then give a copy to your manager, and to your manager's boss. Then, be prepared to discuss with them the realities of software development from a tester's point of view. After reading 'Why Software Gets In Trouble." you'll almost certainly have a more enlightened (and hopefully more receptive) audience."

And Don Gray wrapped up by adding in his review with a case example from one of his clients: "After three quarterly 'successful' releases a company had 453 defects opened in a single day against the 'successful' releases."

"Many books exist for any given programming language. Every developer had two or three at their desk. One book on software engineering may exist for every 100 language books. Maybe not. I noticed one developer had one.""453 defects don’t suddenly happen. Something in the process and culture allowed them to build until they could no longer be ignored. It seems to me someone at the company might benefit from learning about system dynamics and the reasons behind software errors.""Why Software Gets in Trouble is the only book I know of that explores the systemic dynamics and reasons behind software errors. Using stories, graphs and Diagrams of Effects, this book explores how different software cultures:   * notice and think about errors   * detect failures   * locate the faults behind the errors   * resolve faults   * apply and handle pressure"The content applies to both managers and developers. If you’ve wondered why you keep experiencing the same patterns concerning shipping software, this book will help you understand why.""NOTE: If you’ve not read How Software is Built, you might find reading Why Software Gets in Trouble's appendices on Diagrams of Effects and Software Engineering Cultural Patterns helpful prior to starting the main text."

About the Author

Gerald M. Weinberg
Gerald M. Weinberg

I've always been interested in helping smart people be happy and productive. To that end, I've published books on human behavior, including Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method, The Psychology of Computer Programming, Perfect Software and Other Fallacies, and an Introduction to General Systems Thinking. I've also written books on leadership including Becoming a Technical Leader, The Secrets of Consulting (Foreword by Virginia Satir), More Secrets of Consulting, and the nine-volume Quality Software series.

I try to incorporate my knowledge of science, engineering, and human behavior into all of my writing and consulting work (with writers, hi-tech researchers, software engineers, and people whose life-situation could require the use of a service dog). I write novels about such people, including The Aremac Project, Aremac Power, Jigglers, First Stringers, Second Stringers, The Hands of God, Freshman Murders, Where There's a Will There's a Murder, Earth's Endless Effort, and Mistress of Molecules—all about how my brilliant protagonists produce quality work and learn to be happy. My books that are not yet on Leanpub may be found as eBooks at <http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JerryWeinberg>; on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B000AP8TZ8; and at Barnes and Noble bookstore: http://tinyurl.com/4eudqk5.

Early in my career, I was the architect for the Project Mercury's space tracking network and designer of the world's first multiprogrammed operating system. I won the Warnier Prize, the Stevens Award, and the first Software Testing Professionals' Luminary Award, all for my writing on software quality. I was also elected a charter member of the Computing Hall of Fame in San Diego and chosen for the University of Nebraska Hall of Fame.

But the "award" I'm most proud of is the book, The Gift of Time (Fiona Charles, ed.) written by my student and readers for my 75th birthday. Their stories make me feel that I've been at least partially successful at helping smart people be happy.

Bundles that include this book

How Software Is Built
Why Software Gets In Trouble
How To Observe Software Systems
Responding to Significant Software Events
Managing Yourself and Others
11 Books
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Table of Contents

  • Why Software Gets In Trouble
  • New Preface
  • Part IV. Fault Patterns
    • Chapter 1: Observing and Reasoning About Errors
      • 1.1. Conceptual Errors About Errors
        • 1.1.1. Errors are not a moral issue
        • 1.1.2. Quality is not the same thing as absence of errors
        • 1.1.3. The terminology of error
      • 1.2. Mis-classification of Error-Handling Processes
        • 1.2.1. Detection
        • 1.2.2. Location
        • 1.2.3. Resolution
        • 1.2.4. Prevention
        • 1.2.5. Distribution
      • 1.3. Observational Errors About Errors
        • 1.3.1 Selection Fallacies
        • 1.3.2. Getting observations backwards
        • 1.3.3. The Controller Fallacy
      • 1.4. Helpful Hints and Suggestions
      • 1.5 Summary
      • 1.6. Practice
    • Chapter 2: The Failure Detection Curve
      • 2.1 The Difference Detection Dynamic
        • 2.1.1 The Root-Drew fallacy in difference detection
        • 2.1.2 Why we misestimate failure detection
        • 2.1.3 The bad news about the failure detection curve
      • 2.2. Living With the Failure Detection Curve
        • 2.2.1 The Failure Detection Curve as predictor
        • 2.2.2 Undermining test coverage
        • 2.2.3. Late finishing modules
      • 2.3. Helpful Hints and Suggestions
      • 2.4 Summary
      • 2.5. Practice
      • 2.6 Chapter Appendix
    • Chapter 3: Locating The Faults Behind The Failures
      • 3.1 The Dynamics of Fault Location
        • 3.1.1 Direct effects of system size
        • 3.1.2 Divide and Conquer to beat Size/Complexity
        • 3.1.3 Divide the labor to beat delivery time
        • 3.1.4 Indirect effects of system size
      • 3.2 Circulation of STIs Before Resolution
      • 3.3 Process Faults: Losing STIs
      • 3.4 Political Time: Status Walls
      • 3.5 Labor Lost: Administrative Burden
      • 3.6 Helpful Hints and Suggestions
      • 3.7 Summary
      • 3.8. Practice
    • Chapter 4: Fault Resolution Dynamics
      • 4.1 Basic Fault Resolution Dynamics
        • 4.1.1. Size/Complexity Dynamics
        • 4.1.2 Side Effects
      • 4.2 Fault Feedback Dynamics
        • 4.2.1 The Fault Feedback Ratio (FFR)
        • 4.2.2 The impact of FFR
        • 4.2.3 Having an impact on FFR
        • 4.2.4 A self-invalidating model
      • 4.3 Deterioration Dynamics
        • 4.3.1. Maintainability must be maintained
        • 4.3.2 The ripple effect
        • 4.3.3 Destruction of black box design integrity
        • 4.3.4. The ripple effect over time
        • 4.3.5. The Titanic Effect
        • 4.3.6. Maintaining maintainability
      • 4.4 Helpful Hints and Suggestions
      • 4.5 Summary
      • 4.6. Practice
    • Chapter 5: Power, Pressure, and Performance
      • 5.1 The Pressure/Performance Relationship
        • 5.1.1 The linear model
        • 5.1.2. The burnout non-linear model
        • 5.1.3. The collapse non-linear model
      • 5.2 Pressure To Find “The Last Fault”
      • 5.3 Stress/Control Dynamic
      • 5.4 Forms of Breakdown Under Pressure
        • 5.4.1 The Pressure/Judgment Dynamic
        • 5.4.2 The Lost Labor Dynamic
        • 5.4.3 The Pile-On Dynamic
        • 5.4.4 The Panic Reaction
      • 5.5 Management of Pressure
        • 5.5.1. The self-regulating worker
        • 5.5.2. The disempowering manager
        • 5.5.3. The Law of Diminishing Response
        • 5.5.4. The responsive manager
      • 5.6 Helpful Hints and Suggestions
      • 5.7 Summary
      • 5.8. Practice
    • Chapter 6: Handling Breakdown Pressure
      • 6.1 Shuffling Work
        • 6.1.1 Task splitting
        • 6.1.2 Everything is Number One Priority
        • 6.1.3 Choosing your own priority
        • 6.1.4 Doing the easiest task first
        • 6.1.5 Circulating hot potatoes
      • 6.2 Ways of Doing Nothing
        • 6.2.1 Accepting poor quality products
        • 6.2.2 Not accepting schedule slippage
        • 6.2.3 Accepting resource overruns
        • 6.2.4 Managers not available
        • 6.2.5 No time to do it right
      • 6.3 Short-Circuiting Procedures
        • 6.3.1 The Boomerang Effect
        • 6.3.2 The decision to ship poor quality
        • 6.3.3 Bypassing quality assurance
        • 6.3.4 Emergencies and interruptions
        • 6.3.5 Morale effects
        • 6.3.6 Managers are human
      • 6.4 How Customers Impact the Boomerang
        • 6.4.1 More failure reports
        • 6.4.2 Multiplying costs after release
        • 6.4.3 Increased temptation
        • 6.4.4 The final solution
      • 6.5 Helpful Hints and Suggestions
      • 6.6 Summary
      • 6.7. Practice
    • Chapter 7: What We’ve Managed To Accomplish
      • 7.1. Why Systems Thinking?
      • 7.2. Why Manage?
      • 7.3. Estimating Our Accomplishments
        • 7.3.1. Productivity increases
        • 7.3.2. Why we’re suckers for magic bullets
        • 7.3.3. Pattern 1 productivity; Pattern 2 ambition
      • 7.4 What Each Pattern Has Contributed
        • 7.4.1. Pattern 0: Oblivious
        • 7.4.2. Pattern 1: Variable
        • 7.4.3. Pattern 2: Routine
        • 7.4.4. Pattern 3, 4, and 5
      • 7.5. Meta-patterns
      • 7.6 Helpful Hints and Suggestions
      • 7.7 Summary
      • 7.8 Practice
    • Appendix A: The Diagram of Effects
    • Appendix B: The Software Engineering Cultural Patterns
        • Pattern 0. Oblivious Process
        • Pattern 1: Variable Process
        • Pattern 2: Routine Process
      • Pattern 3: Steering Process
      • Pattern 4: Anticipating Process
      • Pattern 5: Congruent Process
  • What Next?

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